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Published: 05th May 2009
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The process of acquiring real estate in Costa Rica is slightly different than it is in the United States and Canada. For example, there is no Multiple Listing Service, so you have to search individual agents' listings and newspapers for the properties you want in any given location. Additionally, real estate agents do not require any special license to sell homes or property (they do not even need to be Costa Rican citizens). In other words, just about anyone can claim to be a real estate agent with little or no qualifications. Buying real estate in Costa Rica can therefore be a little tricky to the inexperienced, but it is very doable once you begin to educate yourself on what to avoid.

In order to avoid scams, the first thing you need to do after you have located a specific property is make sure that its title is officially listed on Folio Real, a computer system in the offices of the Public Registry in the capital city, San Jose. The Folio Real system organizes all of the country's real estate holdings in one convenient location. We highly recommend utilizing this system as a first step in any property enquiry. This initial search will give you all the vital information concerning a specific property, such as previous ownership, liens, encumbrances, annotations or other issues that may affect ownership rights or the possibility of transferring the land to you. Most importantly, you need to make sure that the property is listed in the first place, and that the person selling it has not been making any bogus claims.

Most land is titled and can be found on Folio Real. However, a significant portion of Costa Rican property has not been entered into the system because they have had no transfers or other transactions for a long time. These are still registered but must be searched for in person through hard-copy records at the Registry.

Property transfers require that a buyer and seller sign a deed before a Costa Rican notary public and for the deed to be recorded at the Public Registry. Notary publics in Costa Rica function a little differently and have a few more powers than their counterparts in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. They are required to formalize all real estate transactions.

Title searches on Folio Real properties may be initiated in the computer system, which is accessible on-line. It is highly recommended that you continue your search in person at the Registry in the manual entry system, especially when the computer search shows liens, encumbrances or other property characteristics inherited from older transactions on the land before it was transferred to the Folio Real system.

Even though the computer system may indicate a list of liens and encumbrances, a more thorough search requires the review of microfilmed or scanned documents providing the details of such finds, all of which are not accessible on-line. Generally speaking, private parties lack the legal training to be able to interpret the information accurately, safely and thoroughly, and may not perform required next steps. As such, we strongly recommend enlisting a knowledgeable professional to perform and report on the title search.

Monterra Handles All the Title Legalities for You

Monterra's team of real estate experts is ready to help you with each step of the title-transfer process. When you purchase a lot in either of our communities in Tambor, Monterra handles the title transfer as part of the purchase price. Since we "Title Out" the properties, we continually inform each buyer about what is required for each stage of the title-transfer process.

Our Communities in Enchanting Tambor

We currently have two communities under development at our headquarters in Tambor-Valle de Luz and Rios del Sol. We are now selling fully-serviced lots (complete with roads, water, and electricity) from these properties to early purchasers. By getting in on the action now, you will receive all the benefits that come from accelerated property appreciation. There is no better time to buy.

Many buyers take advantage of pre-development purchasing for the investment potential, while others want to build homes right away to take advantage of our extensive waiting list of qualified renters. Some buyers are seeking a tropical retreat, while others want a new place to call "home." Whatever your preference, Monterra's developers offer an attractive opportunity for investing in this fast-growing region of the country at the best possible time.

Make an appointment today to speak with one of our expert staff members to learn how these properties have appreciated over the past few years. Start understanding why everyone who moves here starts living the pura vida, or pure life. In a matter of no time, you too can find yourself living a pura vida on a fabulous new property in Costa Rica.

Fast Facts:

The Miami Herald recently ranked Costa Rica as the 27th safest country (out of 140 profiled) to invest in-the United States, by the way, was not so far behind at 22nd.

Costa Rica has protected over 25 percent of the nation's land with conservation status.

There is more Americans (per capita) living in Costa Rica than in any other country in the world.

Did you know?

Many investors in Costa Rica are discovering the possibilities of making rental income off of their property purchases. If your lot is large enough, why not take advantage of the extra space and build a bungalow to rent out long term? If you only plan to stay in Costa Rica for part of the year, you can also take advantage of our unique rental income offers. Our waiting list for rental opportunities is constantly growing. When you speak to one of our representatives about our pre-development pricing plans, make sure to ask how you can earn extra money from rental income!

About Us

Since the year 2000, has been representing properties in Costa Rica. As we enter our eighth year of business, we are finding there is more interest than ever in our properties from informed buyers looking to invest in tropical destinations. Lately, interest in Tambor, Costa Rica and the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula has been overwhelming. For that reason, OwnCostaRica is proud to be the exclusive property sales representative for our sister company, Monterra, a development firm located in Tambor. Monterra's property lots come in a variety of sizes (from one to six acres) and are fully serviced with roads, water, and electricity. On January 25th 2007 Monterra launched Rios Del Sol, a luxury community located minutes from Tambor. Rios Del Sol is not only a truly great investment opportunity but also an exotic destination in a family-oriented environment.

Why buy from a developer?

Buying direct from a developer is the smart way to acquire property and get the best deal possible. This is especially true in a foreign market like Costa Rica's, where there is no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and just about anyone can claim to be a real estate agent. From day one, we at Monterra ensure that your property is ready for development and secure from hidden liens and encumbrances. Every step of the way, from the initial title-transfer process to the moment you receive the keys to your new home, we share the responsibility to see your investment through.

Message from Partner.

As most of our current projects begin to be sold out, the popular question is, "When can I build?" You can build once you receive your property title. The building process takes up to 1 year and our new home deigns will be out before our next newsletter. Property titles become available as roads are constructed and before we can build roads we need planning and approvals. The planning process is quite involved and expensive but necessary for legal development.

Monterra uses some of the best architects, engineers, and road builders in Costa Rica and this in itself is the main reason why we are different than most developers in the country. I have been to plenty of developments that have not taken the time to plan roads properly, and in many cases developers have lost their road permits because of damage they have done to the environment. Improperly planned roads cause more environmental damage here than anything and are not to be rushed.

One misconception property owners have in Costa Rica is that roads mean progress. This is simply not true. Many developers rush their roads just to be able to sell their lots and then later beg forgiveness from the Ministry of the Environment, in hopes they can still get permits. Any reputable developer will show you their legal road progress on paper as part of being transparent to each buyer.

Tambor, Costa Rica is a gift to those who have insight and who love peace and tranquility. It's a place where can shift your priorities in life and have lucid thoughts about your future. It's a sound investment where one of the most beautiful places in the world becomes your playground.

See you in Tambor!

Brian Hughes, Senior Partner

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